First flu-related death in Alamance County is a child, North Carolina death toll rises

Alamance County Health Department says the county's first flu-related death this year was a child.
January 23, 2014 3:44:46 PM PST
North Carolina health officials reported Thursday that flu-related deaths statewide have climbed by 5 - to a total of 33 this flu season.

Alamance County health officials also announced the additional death of a child - the county's first flu-related death of the year.

Officials said the child died Wednesday, but details surrounding the death are not being released to protect the family's privacy.

"This is deeply saddening news and we extend our thoughts and prayers to the family," Alamance County Health Director Barry Bass said in a statement. "Please use precautions this flu season and if you haven't already, we encourage you to get the flu vaccine."

Health officials say most of the 33 flu victims never got a flu shot. Doctors say it is the best way to protect you and your children.

The state Center for Health Statistics shows the number of flu deaths has steadily declined since 2008 thanks to flu vaccines. This flu season, however, the number of flu-related deaths in our state continues to climb.

So far, two children died from the virus. However, most of our state's deaths have occurred in people ages 25-64.

Health officials say this year, the flu is hitting young and middle-aged adults especially hard. Of the deaths reported so far, DHHS says they only know of two people who were vaccinated.

"Get your flu shot. It's really important," said the CEO of the North Carolina Medical Society Bob Seligson. "A lot of research went into creating the vaccinations to help people avoid getting the flu. We want to have the healthiest state in the country, and anyone who dies prematurely is a very sad consequence and that's something we should avoid at all cost."

According to a state epidemiologist, only about half of North Carolinians got the flu vaccine last year.

There's been wide-spread flu activity since mid-December. We still haven't reached the peak of the season, which means more deaths are likely.

Click here for more information about the flu and where to get a shot.

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